Fall Craft Ideas: Leaf Drawing

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing | TinkerLab

This fall craft idea is also a simple creative invitation that doesn’t require a lot of fancy tools and won’t come with a big mess. If you’re new to the idea of creative invitations, this article has all the details you’ll need to get started.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing  | TinkerLab

Supplies for Fall Leaf Drawing

  • Leaves
  • Colored pencils or your favorite mark-making tool
  • Paper

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing  | TinkerLab

My 4-year old and I took a bike ride and she chose this selection of leaves. We arranged them on the table and she added a crystal. Because, you know, it looks better that way.

We marveled at all the colors in the leaves and then I invited her to draw them. We used Lyra Ferby colored pencils (affiliate link) for the task. I love these crayon/pencils for little kids because they’re a bit fatter than standard colored pencils (with a 6.25 mm lead core), and they come with a triangle grip that makes them easy to hold.

My daughter still insists on holding her pencil with her pinky and seems quite comfortable with this grip. And I’m still working on helping her shift to a better grip! If this is something that your child struggles with, this post has some great tips in the comments.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing | TinkerLab

The Fall Leaf Drawing Set-up

Set up a large sheet of drawing paper, scatter a few leaves around, and place freshly sharpened colored pencils on the table.

Invite your child to look closely at the leaves and notice the variety of colors and shapes, and then discuss what you see.

Some questions to ask:

  • What colors do you notice?
  • Do any of the colors surprise you?
  • How many points does this leaf have? Let’s count them together.
  • Which of these leaves could have come from the same tree?
  • Do you have a favorite leaf in this collection? What makes it your favorite?

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing  | TinkerLab

Experiments in Drawing Fall Leaves

I sat across the table from my daughter and we drew leaves together. I always encourage my kids to experiment, and one way to do that is by modeling. As I colored my leaves in I layered one color on top of another. I noted that the red blended into green on one of the leaves, and tried to replicate that in my sketch.

My 4-year old payed attention to that and then pushed it one step further as she colored one of her leaves blue and purple, and gave another blue veins…because she liked the way it looked. Rock on! If you child goes for the unexpected, encourage him or her to go for it. The goal is to use the leaves as a starting point, and then layer that with interpretation and imagination.

More Leaf Projects

Make adorable Leaf Critters by painting directly on leaves with acrylic paint.

Preserve your Fall leaves in glycerin

Make coffee filter suncatchers in leaf shapes

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In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fall Craft Ideas: Paint Coffee Filter Suncatchers

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

If you’re interested in ways to bring the Fall season to life, today I’m sharing fall craft idea that encourages children to be inventive and think independently.

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Present the Supplies as an Art Invitation

If you follow TinkerLab, you know that I appreciate projects that encourage children to think for themselves and come up with their own unique spin on the materials. Like so many of our projects, I present the supplies to my children as an art invitation. Once the supplies are in front of my kids, they are free to use the materials in any way the please.

So, what will we need?

The supplies for this project are so easy!

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Here’s the set-up…

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Pre-cut coffee filters into leaf shapes. As you can see in the first image in this post, there were a few requests for hearts too. Related to that, this is by no means an exclusive-to-Autumn activity. Cut out hearts, moons, trees, flowers, or even shamrocks. Have fun with this!

Place the cut-out shapes on a tray. We used an art tray, but a cookie sheet with a rim will work equally well. You’ll want the tray because this project can get drippy, and all that liquid will be nicely contained in this walled-off area. I found our art trays at Michaels and spotted something similar over on Amazon (affiliate link).

For two children, you can have them share a bowl of water as I did, or give them each their own water (they would appreciate that, I’m sure!).

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

At ages three and six, my kids had very different approaches to this task.

As you can see from the dot-covered table, my three-year old had a GREAT time exploring dot-making on the table. My older daughter experimented with drawing veins and rainbow effects, and her little sister soon got on board with similar tasks.

It’s always interesting to see how artists influence each other, and I’m 100% okay with copying as it’s a way of learning.

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Kids also like to experiment with different paintbrushes (flat, round, fan, skinny, and fat) to achieve a variety of textures and lines. If you have a collection of paintbrushes, this is a great project to bring them out for.

Drying the Coffee Filters

If your child gets into this project, you will have A LOT of painted coffee filters to contend with. As such, you’ll need to set up a space to dry these gorgeous leaves.

Roll out a large sheet of paper or lay down newspaper, and then place the painted cut-outs on the paper until dry. Because the paper is so thin, they tend to dry incredibly fast!

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Once dry, hang the shapes in a window with a bit of transparent tape. Admire the colors as the sun shines through them.

More Fall Craft Ideas

Make a shimmering Fall Lantern

This easy Sticky Autumn Collage is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers

Preserve your leaves in glycerin with Glycerin Leaves

This is our favorite play dough recipe, with a fall scent: DIY Pumpkin Pie Playdough

Make Leaf Sun Prints as a way to preserve leaf shapes on fabric.

And for a whole slew of Autumn ideas, check out the fun Fall Bucket List

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In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

My little one and I have been taking bike rides while her sister is at school, and have had a wonderful time collecting fallen leaves. If you’re looking for fall craft ideas (for kids or adults), today’s simple painted leaf tutorial is a keeper. When autumn hits, this is a fun way to acknowledge the seasonal shift.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

Begin by collecting an assortment of leaves. Choose leaves that have already fallen, when possible. And then collect the rest of your supplies. I recommend acrylic paint because it has the best staying power.

Supplies

Some of the supplies listed are affiliate links.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

Steps: Painted Fall Leaf Critters

Before you start painting, take a look at the leaf and try to figure out what kind of critter you want it to be. Will it be a fish, octopus, or monster? Paint eyes on with acrylic paint.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

Layer on some details…

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

And then, if you like, glue it to a sheet of paper and add more details with marker.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

And there you have it: a fun and simple way to celebrate Fall.

p.s. There’s no wrong way to do this. You could even forget the “critter” idea altogether and simply paint abstract shapes all over your leaves.

More Fall Craft Ideas with Leaves

There are two blogs that you HAVE to check out…

The Artful Parent may be the first place I saw the idea to paint on leaves. Leaf drawing and doodling is lovely for little kids who aren’t yet drawing things that are realistic and Leaf Peepers is the predecessor to our Leaf Critters.

14 Ways to Paint Leaves ArtBarBlog pulls some of the best painted leaf posts together in one place. Be sure to check this out for lots of ways to turn those leaves into works of art.

Make it a Party!

Gather some friends together, ask them to bring a small collection of fresh leaves, set up all the materials ahead of time, and serve hot apple cider.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

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In case you blinked and missed it, Tinkerlab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

 

Easy DIY Halloween Garland

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Elmer’s Glue sent us a big pack Early Learner’s materials, and I invited my five-year old to help me come up with a project that other children might enjoy making. My kids created all sorts of things with the pom-poms, buttons, popsicle sticks, fuzzy pipe cleaners, and paper that came with the kit, and then we finally settled on this simple garland that’s sure to brighten any home for Halloween.

It’s easy to prep, doesn’t require any hard-to-find materials, and your child will be encouraged to think creatively as she invents jack-o-lantern faces.

Let’s get started…

E

Supplies

  • Construction Paper: Orange, Black, Green
  • Crayons: Black and White
  • Glue. Elmer’s sent us their new Early Learner Glue Stick and Glue Pen to try out.
  • Scissors
  • Long piece of string

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Prep

  1. Pre-cut circles from the black and orange paper. Approximately 4″ across.
  2. Pre-cut stems (rectangles) from the green paper. Approximately 3″ long and 3/4″ wide
  3. Recycle your paper scraps

Easy DIY Halloween Garland drawing

Invitation

Invite your child to decorate the circular shapes with Jack o’ Lantern faces. Be sure to color both sides if you plan to hang your garland in the middle of the room.

My daughter asked me to join her, and gave me very specific instructions about how the faces should look. I’m a good student and listened carefully.

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

When the faces are done, fold your stems in half and glue them to the piece of string.

DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Be sure to leave about a foot on either end so that you can tie it off to a hook or nail. We decided to tape ours to the rafters because we’re glamorous like that.

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Creative Invitations

Creative Invitations like this are a great way to encourage independent thinking and problem solving. The idea is to set up a provocation with some basic materials, and then step back and see what your child comes up with. Our friends at The Art Pantry are hosting an Invitations to Create Challenge this month, and you can find out more about it here.

Halloween Inspiration

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 5.18.49 PM

For more Halloween inspiration, follow our Halloween board on Pinterest. You might also like to see one of our most popular Halloween posts: 50 Simple Halloween Activities for Kids. You can also follow Elmer’s on Pinterest for lots of gluey inspiration.

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Disclosure: Elmer’s sent us materials to create this project, but all opinions expressed in this post are our own.

 

Fingerprint Spiders for Halloween

Simple and Fun Fingerprint Spiders | Tinkerlab

Did you know that black widows are known for cannibalizing their mates?* Eek. Bet you didn’t plan to come to Tinkerlab today to get info like that.

Fingerprint Spiders for Halloween | Tinkerlab

Spider season has arrived, at least in the Halloween sense of the word, and while it may feel to early for some of us, kids can be wildly in tune with the changing of the seasons. And if it still feels too premature, you can pin this today and keep it up your sleeve for a spooky day down the road.

For us, Halloween catalogues have been arriving for a few weeks now, and decorations are popping up in all the local stores. So when my older daughter started drawing jack-o-lanterns I knew that this project would be a hit.

First let’s talk about supplies…

What You’ll Need

Fingerprint Spiders Supplies

Simple, right?

Step One

Make some fingerprints on your paper.

Have a damp rag handy in case your child is sensitive to having ink on his or her fingers. My kids are okay with this, and understood that that the ink won’t wash off completely until bath time. 

Fingerprint Spiders Halloween

Step Two

Draw on spider legs and faces. However you like. Add goggly eyes if you have any handy.

Fingerprint Spiders Making Prints

This is a great opportunity to talk about how many legs a spider has (8), and introduce other fun spider facts (unlike the one I shared at the beginning of this post). Try these:

Spider Facts

  • Spiders are not insects, but arachnids
  • Spiders have 8 legs. Insects have 6 legs.
  • Cobwebs are simply abandoned spider webs.
  • Spiders do not have antennae.
  • In the 1970’s spiders were sent into space to see if they could build a web with zero gravity. The conclusion? While scientists eventually concluded that the quality of the space webs were slightly different from gravity-based webs, webs were made in space!
  • The biggest spider in the world is the Goliath bird eater, a type of tarantula.

Be creative and open-minded.

Despite our conversation about how spiders have eight legs, my independent-minded five-year old gave all of hers eight legs…on both side of their bodies. She said that they look better that way. What do you think?

Fingerprint Spiders Drawing Legs

Step Three

Now that all the materials are out, experiment a little more and be open to new ideas.

We brought out a few more pens to test out the different thicknesses and textures. Then we poured some watercolors into a small bowl and made painted spiders.

Fingerprint Spiders Creative Table

From there, the painting and drawing experiments expanded to include abstract patterns and fully covered pieces of paper.

Fingerprint Spiders and Painting Experiments

See you next time for more tinkering fun!


*For more weird spider facts, Michael Miller, animal keeper at the Smithsonian, compiled a list of 8 strange but true spider facts that will fascinate you.

50 Simple Halloween Ideas for Kids

pumpkin pie playdough, tinkerlab

Is this your first time here? Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Are you scrambling to pull some off some kid-friendly Halloween magic? Here are some simple Halloween ideas to help you move gracefully through the next few days.

Simple Halloween Ideas

Simple Halloween Ideas: Science Experiments

Dry Ice Experiment, Tinkerlab

5 Fun Science Experiements, Science Sparks

Elephant Toothpaste, Preschool Powel Packets

Erupting Pumpkin Experiment, Growing a Jeweled Rose

20 Best Halloween Science Ideas from Kid Bloggers, Steve Spangler Science

Glowing Mad Science Jars, Growing a Jeweled Rose

How to Make Slime, Tinkerlab, and watch our video tutorial…

Simple Halloween Ideas: Sensory Activities (Great for Toddlers)

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough, Tinkerlab

Pumpkin Scented Cloud Dough, Growing a Jeweled Rose

Halloween Sensory Bin, Here Come the Girls

Pumpkin Oobleck, Train Up A Child

13 Halloween Sensory Ideas, Creative Playhouse

Pumpkin Guts (one of my favorite simple Halloween ideas, since you know you have to cut the pumpkin up anyway), Creative Connections for Kids

Touch and Feel Scarecrows, Teach Preschool

Simple Halloween Ideas: Arts and Crafts

Simple Halloween Ideas

Organic Shape Monsters (this simple Halloween idea is a year-round hit in my house), Tinkerlab

Spiderweb Printmaking, Tinkerlab

Printing with Pumpkins, Putti’s World

Coffee Filter Spiderwebs, The Artful Parent

Handprint Pumpkins, Putti’s World

Halloween Tree, Tinkerlab

Tie Dye Pumpkins, Mamas Like Me

Marble and Paint Spider Webs, Tinkerlab

Spin Art Pumpkins, Rainy Day Mum

Pumpkin Scented Painting, Growing a Jeweled Rose

Halloween Countdown Paper Chain, Tinkerlab

Rolling Pumpkin Painting, Putti’s World

Simple Halloween Ideas: Games and Activities

Simple Halloween Ideas

Halloween Felt Board Game, Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Halloween Crafts and Ideas for Toddlers, Rainy Day Mum

31 Ideas for an Active October, Toddler Approved

Dress in Costume and Write a Story, Here Come the Girls

Witch Pitch (toss candy corn into cauldron game), Chica and Jo

Halloween Word Search, No Time for Flash Cards

Simple Halloween Ideas: Food

Baked Pumpkin Seeds, Tinkerlab

 21 Recipes Inspired by Scary Movies, Babble

4 (not so scary) Food and Snack Ideas, Kids Activities Blog

Pumpkin Jack-o-lantern Pancakes, The Artful Parent

Easy Frankenstein Cookie Pops, Life at the Zoo

Simple Halloween Ideas: Jack-O-Lanterns

No-carve Halloween Pumpkins, Tinkerlab

Decorate Monster Pumpkins, Hands on as we Grow

Last-minute Pumpkin Carving and Decorating, The Artful Parent

Toddler-friendly Jack-O-Lanterns, Modern Parent Messy Kids

Puffy Paint Jack-o-lanterns, Train Up a Child

Button and Ribbon Pumpkins, Toddler Approved

Chalkboard Pumpkins, Small & Friendly

Simple Halloween Ideas: Decorations

Felt Bat Garland, The Artful Parent

Little Fabric Ghosts, Tinkerlab

10 Simple Halloween Decorations, Babble

How to Make a Halloween Bunting (Quick and Cheap), The Artful Parent

Make the Spookiest Scarecrow Ever + 10 more Outdoor Decorating Ideas, Babble

Simple Halloween Ideas: Costumes

39 Last minute Costume Ideas for Kids, Family Fun

Last minute Halloween Costumes, Babble

Last-minute Pirate Costume, Red Ted Art (I also love the last-minute skeleton costume)

50 No-sew Costumes for Halloween, No Twiddle Twaddle

 

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TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fall Luminary: Make a Lantern

Crayon Shavings :: from Tinkerlab, Creative Experiments for Kids

Today I’m joined by Arts Educator extraordinaire, Amanda Gross, who’s back to show us how to make a Fall Luminary from leaves and melted crayons. Not only are these beautiful, but the processes of collecting leaves, peeling crayons, and melting the wax with an iron are sure to capture a child’s attention.

Make a Lantern!

Luminaries are perfect for brightening a crisp autumn evening, and a crafty way to explore this season when leaves turn brilliant colors, the rosy twilight falls more quickly, and families the world over traditionally give thanks for the harvest.

You might start by reading a book that poetically investigates the unique things of autumn, such as Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man or Lauren Thompson’s Mouse’s First Fall.

Would your child like to make a colorful fall luminary, choosing materials from outside and around the house?

Step 1:
Wander around outside, and notice how the leaves have turned a multitude of colors and have gotten crunchy. Choose leaves that have fallen off of trees, but are not too dry and can still lay flat.  If leaves are very curly, you may consider pressing them in a heavy book for a few days, before using them.  Bring your collection inside and onto a table.

Step 2:
Find a clean mason jar that will serve as the structure for your luminary.  Measure the mason jar’s circumference with sting, and cut a wax paper strip that is long enough to fit around it.

Step 3:
Gather crayons of your favorite colors.   Lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival are often inspired by butterflies, so any hue goes!   Unwrap the paper covering the crayons, and shave them lengthwise over the wax paper, with a serrated knife or vegetable peeler.  If your child isn’t old enough to wield the knife, s/he could choose the crayon, the location, and how much pigment they’d like you to shave off.

Step 4:
Place leaves over the crayon shavings, and feel free to add more shavings on top.  Explain that the crayon wax will melt, and those little crumbs will become puddles of color.  Experiment with composition, and with layering the leaves and shavings.

Step 5:
Set up your ironing board and turn on the iron (If you are like me, and not the most experienced with this, here’s one of many online ironing tutorials).  On your ironing board, place a flat, thin cloth (the crayon wax will probably bleed through the wax paper a bit, so use scrap fabric and not “good” cloth), then carefully place your wax paper with the leaves and shavings.  Over this, put a blank sheet of wax paper, of around the same size.  Layer on another thin cloth, and smooth out the wrinkles with your fingers.  Spritz the top layer evenly with water from a spray bottle, and now you’re ready to iron.  Flatten out the wrinkles and iron both sides of the wax paper “sandwich.”

Step 6:
After waiting a few minutes for the wax paper to cool, peel away the cloth.  Measure your mason jar again, and cut the wax paper so that it fits around the jar, then tape or tie a ribbon around it to hold the paper in place.

Step 7:
When it gets dark outside, drop a candle into your mason jar, and ignite it with a long lighter.  The brilliant, glowing colors and winding lines of the leaves will surely be a cozy centerpiece for your family to gather around, and is an excellent reminder to be grateful for the season.

Resources

Picture Books About Fall on Goodreads

PreservingLeaves and a Leaf Lantern

Nature’sStained Glass

MeltedCrayon Luminaries

Amanda E. Gross_headshotAmanda designs curricula to guide and inspire children, teens, and adults to appreciate art and to create!  She earned a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from The Rhode Island School of Design and is an instructor at Academy of Art University.  Amanda is also an illustrator, painter, DIY crafter, and permaculture enthusiast. Find out more about Amanda here: Art Curricula WebsiteArt Portfolio WebsiteLinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Fall Crafts: Glycerin Leaves

How to make glycerine Leaves

We’re ga-ga for all the multi-colored maple leaves of the season, and my older daughter, N, is likely to burst into a chorus of “red and yellow leaves” as we drive down the road. I’ve been reading up on how to preserve the leaves so that they’ll last more than a couple days and it turns out that you have a few choices, some of them being : preserve them with a glycerin solution, seal them with hot wax, press them between sheets of contact paper, or melt them between sheets of wax paper.

We had a bottle of glycerin in the cabinet for bubble-making, so I thought we’d try our hands at making glycerin leaves. I have to tell you upfront: the process was fantastic and my kids really got into it. The results, on the other hand, meh. Not so spectacular. More on that soon.

Supplies

  • 1/4 c. glycerin
  • 1/2 c. water
  •  Fall leaves
  • Two pans that can stack inside each other
  • Spoon for mixing

Mix the glycerin and water in your pan. Add leaves.

If you don’t have enough solution to cover the leaves, make another batch. My 4-year old loved taking charge of this step and we ooohed and ahhhed over the leaves as they went into the glycerin bath.

Find another pan that’s a bit small than the first, and place it on top so that all the leaves stay submerged.

Put this aside for three-ish days, or until the leaves are super-supple. At this point, the leaves should have absorbed enough of the glycerin solution to retain their color and texture.

Remove the leaves from the glycerin solution and pat dry on a towel. Your leaves are now ready to display.

For those of you who might be banking on this recipe as a way to preserve your leaves for years to come, I think this is worth the experiment but it may not be foolproof. About two weeks later, our leaves have not turned brown, but they definitely haven’t retained their original color. I decorated a corner of our mantle with them, and they look pretty good, but not spectacular. I found this recipe that added surfectant (found in garden supply stores), and it sounds like that may help the glycerin soak into the leaves.

This minor detail has not affected my kids, however, who have been incorporating the leaves into their projects.

Have you ever made glycerin leaves?

Any tips or thoughts on what may have gone wrong? Or was I expecting too much?

 

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DIY Pumpkin Pie Playdough

fall playdough

Have you ever made your own playdough? Store bought playdough is okay in a pinch, but making your own is a money saver and you can make TONS of it in mere minutes.

Easy! How to make your own pumpkin pie play dough with ingredients that you probably already have in the house.  It smells amazing!

Inspired by The Artful Parent’s Autumn Arts and Crafts book, The Artful Year: Autumn, we finally pitched our peppermint playdough in favor of a more seasonal scent: Pumpkin Pie!

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe…

I used our favorite play dough recipe, which also happens to be the favorite of my daughter’s awesome preschool class, so I’m not going to get experimental with the dough itself, but we did experiment with the spice combination.

The dough itself takes about 20 minutes to prepare, it cooks on the stove-top, and the most complicated-to-find ingredient it calls for is cream of tartar. If it’s hard for you to find, you can get Cream of Tartar on Amazon.

Yes, you can find 2-minute dough recipes, and I’d encourage you to use them if you’re short on time, but the benefit of this recipe is that it will last for ages. Ages. Scroll down for a PRINTABLE recipe card.

playdough

After we made the dough, I placed it on the counter to cool. Meanwhile, my 2-year old worked away at pinching out a real pie crust.

playdough

When the dough was cool to touch, we squeezed orange liquid watercolors on half of it and then kneaded it in. For this step, be sure to mix on a surface that won’t absorb the watercolors. My 4-year old wanted to make half the dough orange and half of it white.

playdough

Although we had planned to use a jar of pumpkin pie spice in the dough, my 4-year old was curious about using whole spices that we just bought, so we pulled out the coffee grinder and gave it a very loud whirl. Fun! I don’t have a proper nutmeg grinder, but this seemed to do the trick. And the smell of cardamom — I absolutely love it.

We experimented with the spice blend by adding the different spices, first quite cautiously and then rather liberally, and in different combinations. I learned that my 4-year old isn’t too crazy about the smell of cardamom, but loves cinnamon.

5.0 from 5 reviews
DIY Pumpkin Pie Playdough
 
Author:
Prep time:
Making time:
Total time:
 
Playdough is a wonderful material for building fine motor skills, developing imaginations through exploratory play, and supporting early engineering and building skills. This recipe rivals anything store-bought.
Supplies
  • 5 cups water
  • 2½ cups salt
  • 3 tbsp. cream of tartar
  • 10 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 5 cups flour
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolors
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice, or a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom
Steps
  1. Mix everything but the food coloring together in a large pot until somewhat smooth. It will be lumpy. Not to worry, the dough will get smoother as it cooks.
  2. Cook the dough over a low heat. Mix frequently. The water will slowly cook out of the mixture and you’ll notice it starts to take on a sticky dough appearance.
  3. Keep mixing until the edges of the dough along the side and bottom of the pan appear dry. Pinch a piece of dough. If it’s not gooey, the dough is ready.
  4. Place the dough on a counter top or large cutting board or cooking tray that can withstand a little food coloring.
  5. Knead the warm dough until it’s smooth and then divide it into the number of colors that you’d like to make. We divided our in half: one orange and the other white.
  6. Flatten the ball, add a little bit of food coloring, and knead it in. Add more food coloring to get the desired shade.
  7. Store the dough in a large Ziplock bag or sealed container. Unused, it’ll keep for months.

playdough

My 2-year old was very happy, however, to shake-shake-shake the pie spices all over her gigantic mound of dough. Can you imagine how yummy our kitchen smelled?

playdough

After all this cooking, it was time to bake! At this point, our orange and white/tan doughs marbled into something lovely, and we got busy making small cakes and setting them out to eat on a 3-tier plate server.

Playdough Recipes

Rainbow Play Dough, Tinkerlab

No-cook Cinnamon Playdough, The Imagination Tree

39 Ways to Play with Playdough, The Artful Parent

Downloadable (Free) Playdough Recipe Book, Nurture Store

Fall Activities

Fall Bucket List, Tinkerlab

40 Autumn Activities for Kids, The Imagination Tree

Make Fall Sunprints, Tinkerlab

Multi-color Leaf Prints, Kleas

Negative Leaf Impressions, Tinkerlab

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Halloween Countdown Paper Chain

Halloween countdown paper chain

Are your kids as bonkers about Halloween as mine are?

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and my passion for it clearly seeped into my kids’ genes because my 4-year old has been filling her sketchbook with pictures of bats and spiders, and wants to know when, when, when we can put up our Halloween decorations.

The Halloween catalogues and impossible-to-miss store displays play a huge role in this premature enthusiasm, but I want to celebrate her interests while harnessing a bit of that energy.

Oh, and Halloween is still a whopping 41 days away.

So I thought we could make a Halloween countdown chain to help us visualize how many days until all that apple-bobbing goodness would be upon us.

How to Make a Paper Chain

  • Halloween-colored papers, cut into approximately 2″ strips
  • Stapler or Tape

N selected colors that reminded her of Halloween and we cut them into strips.

We wrapped the first piece into a circle, stapled it, and then proceded to interlock the rest of the pieces until we were done. N decided she had enough after around chain link #25. I think the visual cue helped because she hasn’t asked me how many days until Halloween once since we made this.

The garland was about fifteen feet long, so we draped it over a chandelier. My children jump at any chance to climb on furniture and was eager to cut her first link. Scott, my smarter-than-me husband, came home and suggested I take the chain off the hot light fixtures, and it’s since moved over to the window. I married a good one.

Just 41 more to go!

Have you given in to early Halloween requests?

Do you make paper countdown chains for other holidays or events?

Capture Fall Memories with Kids

Capture Fall Memories with Kids

Capture Fall Memories with Kids

Last year, my 3-year old fell in love with the Fall season. We visited the pumpkin patch (multiple times), planned and re-planned Halloween costumes, collected leaves, made leaf art, visited an apple farm, and the list goes on!

After Halloween I purchased an old typewriter and N dictated a Fall-inspired poem that beautifully captures her age and the spirit of the season. She was getting ready (in her mind) for Christmas, and titled it “Christmas and Fall,” but it ended up being all about the autumn season.

I know that Fall is a few weeks away, but I share it now since it’s a good time to start building memories as we move from one season to the next.

To make your own poem, ask your child to think about the season — this might be a great time to make a Summer Poem! — and then type or hand-write the words verbatim. I happened to use an old typewriter, but a computer or sheet of paper would work equally well. I asked N what she loved about the Fall and she started with “Candles.”

And then the rest goes like this…

 

Christmas & Fall

Candles

I love to eat cranberry pie.

I collect leaves that are very, very pretty.

I love to wear rain jackets because sometimes it rains in the Fall and Halloween.

I love jack-o-lanterns when they’re glowing.

I love to spray leaves with paint.

I love to eat pumpkin seeds when my mom makes them.

(This poem was originally inspired by the List Poems on Let’s Explore.)

Fall 2012 Bucket List

Fall 2012 Bucket List from Tinkerlab

Have you noticed the leaves turning in your part of the world? Do you make seasonal bucket lists? By nature I’m hopelessly disorganized, but having children has helped me make some progress, mainly because my kids demand it of me.

This bucket list was inspired the Fall 2011 Bucket List by Katie at Loves of Life. Thanks Katie — your list is fantastic!

Fall Bucket List

Why I Write Bucket Lists

I never wrote bucket lists before having kids (does anyone?) and I started this ritual  to help me navigate the sea of activities that go along with having children. I also enjoy the process of planning, wishing, and dreaming with my family. It’s fun to sit down with paper and a pen, and scribble out a long list of wishes. We come up with all sorts of fun ideas and this process builds excitement for transitioning from one season to the next.

It’s only August, but I noticed that our leaves are already turning. Does anyone else think this is just crazy? My husband baked a cherry pie with 4-year old Nutmeg this afternoon, and the house started to smell like Fall. And we tackled back-to-school shopping this weekend. Get ready, because Fall is coming!

Do you know what I’m dreaming about today? Pumpkin Pie flavored coffee and baking my mom’s pumpkin bread. Mmmm.

 

Links to Fun Fall Activities

Make popcorn straight from the cob in the Corncob Popcorn Experiment

Negative Leaf Impressions are a fun way to document the shapes of leaves, with leaves and a spray bottle full of colored water

Make a Sticky Autumn Collage with leaves and contact paper

Check out my growing FALL Pinterest Board for more inspiration

What’s on your Fall Bucket List?

What do you look forward to this season? Feel free to print this and share widely because it’s never too early to plan ahead.